On September 7, 2012, a US space exploration program called the “Hundred Years Starship” received the support of former President Bill Clinton. Since then, this project jointly carried out by NASA and the Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Department of Defense has gradually received a number of financial and policy funding and officially started. The target is the distant Mars.
NASA hopes that this technology can develop a mature and complete long-distance manned space program within 100 years, bring humans to Mars, build a maintenance system suitable for long-term life, and complete “interstellar colonization.”
And ahead of NASA’s long preparations is Musk’s famous “SpaceX Project.” In Musk’s updated immigration plan schedule in 2020, SpaceX plans to send the first batch of “immigrants” to Mars in 2024, if nothing happens, and build a sustainable Martian city by 2050.
It seems that the matter of rushing out of the earth, going to space, emigrating to Mars, and settling on another planet seems to be close at hand. But is everything really so wonderful?
Why is Mars?
Since it is an immigrant and long-term residence, it naturally means that this distant planet should be as close as possible to the state of the earth where we live today. All things considered, Mars can be regarded as a “livable” star.
“The Martian” stills
Photograph of the surface of Mars taken after the “Pirate 1” landed on July 20, 1976
Mars is 55 million kilometers away from Earth—though it sounds scary, it is already the second closest planet to Earth. The more recent planet is Venus. Whether it is atmospheric pressure more than 90 times higher than the earth, or the surface temperature of several hundred degrees Celsius, it is unable to participate in this “livable” competition.
SpaceX plans to send the first batch of “immigrants” to Mars in 2024 if nothing happens.
Mars is much more “friendly”. Although it has shortcomings such as large temperature difference between day and night, during the daytime on Mars, the average temperature of the earth’s surface is about 27 degrees Celsius, which is very similar to the human experience on the earth. At the same time, Mars, like the Earth, has many periodic and traceable repeated weather conditions and natural phenomena, and there are changes in the four seasons.
In time, Mars is also infinitely close to the earth. On Mars, the time of a day is 24 hours, 37 minutes and 23 seconds. This allows the people who have migrated to the past to seamlessly connect to the Martian work and rest time, and they can also have a day and night cycle that is beneficial to human physical and mental health.
More importantly, there is water on Mars. In previous scientific investigations, liquid water has been repeatedly found on the surface of Mars. Although the mining and transportation of this water is extremely difficult, and it contains a certain degree of high-concentration chemical mixture, it cannot be used directly, but since there are traces of water, there is always hope. Once there is water, many human survival problems will be solved.
Conceptual image of NASA spacecraft Mars2020 approaching Mars
Why is Mars? In general, it is probably because Mars is a planet that can be “understood” by people on Earth. Compared with those planets whose faces are vaguely composed of a cloud of gas, a cluster of flames, ultra-high or ultra-low temperature, and an unpredictable abyss on the surface, the image of Mars looks like a certain desert on the earth. The developed no man’s land has massive amounts of dry ice, deep reserves, water ice resources that can be explored, mountains, canyons… For interstellar immigrants, these familiar and almost the same “factory settings” “It must be a trace of peace of mind after traveling through the vast universe and landing on a strange planet.
At the same time, the position of Mars in the universe—the only way to leave the solar system outside the earth—makes this planet even more meaningful as a “springboard for exploration” in the future. If it is to emigrate to Mars, survive and multiply, and in the future want to explore planets outside the solar system and fly out of this corner of the world as we understand it, then starting from Mars is much less difficult than starting from the earth.
In this way, the emigration of earth people to Mars and the development and continuation of new seeds of civilization in a suitable position in the solar system seem to be a matter of “joyful love”. But among them, there are still too many difficult gaps and problems that need to be solved urgently.
Although Mars is already “earthly gas”, the more troublesome thing is that 95% of the Martian atmosphere is carbon dioxide, and there is very little oxygen; the Martian atmosphere is extremely thin, unable to store heat like the earth, and the temperature difference between day and night is huge. In some places, the lowest temperature at night is below minus 130 degrees; the gravity on the surface of Mars is about 37.5% of that of the earth. Humans living in such a low-gravity environment for a long time will cause irreversible damage to the body…
On September 27, 2016, at the 67th International Astronautical Conference, Musk introduced his “Mars Colonization” plan
All kinds of “Martian immigration” projects also take these into account. In the plan, moving to Mars requires a long “reconstruction” process.
First, we must build as many chemical plants as possible on Mars. For example, five powerful nuclear power plants began to produce carbon tetrafluoride around the clock. This gas can continuously increase the temperature of Mars. Based on the emission of 1,000 tons per hour, the average temperature of Mars will rise by 27.8 degrees Celsius in 30 years.
If this transformation is carried out smoothly enough, the ice hidden in the warming Mars will melt into water and enter the “water cycle” we are familiar with, then Mars will also have rain and snow. At this point, the atmospheric content on Mars will greatly increase-although most of it is carbon dioxide, the aircraft can take off and land normally.
During the daytime on Mars, the surface temperature averages about 27 degrees Celsius, which is very similar to the human experience on Earth.
Finally, it is to make oxygen. The immigrants will plant a large number of plants-these are not ordinary flowers, flowers, and grasses, but “super plant oxygen generators” developed by geoscientists specifically to produce large amounts of oxygen. Then, through photosynthesis, the carbon dioxide on Mars is gradually turned into oxygen—it may take 1,000 years or more before humans can breathe freely on Mars without the aid of any equipment.
This extremely long transformation process means that for a long period of time, people still have to use their bodies to resist the intense surface radiation of Mars. The first few generations of immigrants may only live in certain aircraft and space stations for life, just like the science fiction movies we have seen, to create an underground world to avoid the wind and waves of strange planets.
But even if they are hiding in the ground, radiation will still peck at these “earth people”, greatly increasing the incidence of cancer, and impeding the reproduction on Mars. If humans really want to live here for generations, how to produce healthy offspring under the natural conditions of Mars is also an inevitable mystery.
“Huge social experiment”
Since we want to transform a planet so far away from home, and since we have to pay such a heavy price, why do people still insist on launching the plan and emigrating to Mars? An indisputable fact is that with the warming of the climate and the increase in population, the earth’s environment is indeed going downhill. Under the greenhouse effect and depletion of resources, the future of mankind is indeed a question that requires urgent consideration.
For some astronauts who are determined to participate in the immigration project, this is not a decision “to make one’s life better”, but a journey of “nothing to go back”. According to today’s technology, if the spacecraft used by the “Hundred Years Starship” wants to make systematic interstellar travel, it can fly at 12% of the speed of light for about 50 years and reach the star system closest to the solar system—about 4.22 light-years from the earth. Alpha Centauri galaxy. Young people set off and old age arrives. Interstellar travel is more like “a huge social experiment”, and the starship that carries them is “like a small city that can be completely self-sufficient.”
Even if it is only to reach Mars, this is a trip marked with only one-way ticket. The purpose of scientists going to Mars is to explore, build and manufacture reusable life support systems, and even transform the environment of the entire planet. They are pioneers, not tourists. As Clinton said, the exploration of Mars is not limited to immigrants or not, it is more likely to be a mirror, “helping to develop the knowledge and technology needed for mankind to explore the universe”. At the same time, “the knowledge and technology can also improve our The quality of life on earth”.
The vast space and the unfamiliar planets are so attractive. A chemist once said when the Mars project started: “If I can go to Mars and become a human guinea pig, I am willing to donate my body to science. I think this is right. Personally, it is worth it.”
He said, “Turning around and looking at the earth, this is my lifelong dream.” Such a dream seems to have touched many rich people who have gained prestige and wealth on the earth. They are obviously captured by the scenery described by Musk: it is not just as simple as turning around and looking at the earth. Mars can be the garden of Eden for the rich, a new redistribution of unfamiliar resources, and “allowing people to die comfortably after long-term work and entertainment.” On Mars”.
However, the arrival of this kind of comfort must at least be calculated in units of millennia. Living on another planet is far less beautiful than imagined. After squeezing and misusing the resources of one planet, delusion to replace another one and continue to squander is not without a price. There is nothing wrong with exploring the universe, but before the crazy and costly “immigrant tide” surges, should we cherish the oxygen, the blue sky and the land under our feet?